Simi Lampert, 22
Talk about a bombshell. The story Simi Lampert chose to publish in The Beacon, an online publication for and by Modern Orthodox college students — about a Modern Orthodox woman’s premarital tryst in a New York hotel room — bounded past the Jewish media and made it all the way to Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
But, said Lampert, the Beacon’s editor-in-chief and founder, a petite redhead in Israeli sandals, the shock value of the story “was exactly the point.”
Lampert, a senior journalism student at Yeshiva University, founded The Beacon after an article of hers about the problem of drinking on campus was rejected by a YU publication because of its content. “There needs to be a forum within the Jewish community to discuss uncomfortable topics,” she said. “Progress requires discussion — that was my vision for The Beacon.”
The article, and YU’s decision to cut ties with the paper, spiraled into a huge news story. But Lampert stood her ground and refused to remove the article.
After breaking with the university, The Beacon has become a national Jewish thought magazine aimed at including an even wider spectrum of voices; it receives contributions from Jewish students at NYU, Queens College, UCLA, Harvard and other schools. Lampert will be passing on the editorial torch to another student at YU next year. “I feel I have done my part,” said Simi.
“Before The Beacon, I was a bit skeptical about Jewish journalism,” she said. “Now I see how much journalism is needed within the Jewish community. Change can’t happen without dialogue.” Lampert will be working this summer at The Jewish Daily Forward.
Active minds: Lampert worked for Active Minds, a student group at YU raising awareness about mental health. “Met my boyfriend at last year’s event,” she said. Blue hair: Recently, Lampert chose to dye a streak of her hair blue. Why blue? “Why not?”